Hurricane Sandy charity donations are the subject of today’s Scambook TV video. Kevan steps away from the news desk to talk about the superstorm’s impact on the east coast, especially the damage across New York and New Jersey. He warns us that fraudsters will be creating fake charities to exploit the disaster relief effort. To make sure the money you donate goes to help communities rebuild and doesn’t line the pockets of fraud groups, Kevan recommends following 3 tips. Don’t donate without researching the charity, don’t give money to people claiming to be victims in emails or on Facebook, and don’t let anyone pressure or manipulate you. Kevan also brings out Kase, Scambook’s Director of Marketing, to talk about how Scambook is helping the Sandy relief effort by supporting the New Jersey Board of Education and the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund, the organization started by the New Jersey Governor’s wife, Mary Pat Christie. Soon, users who receive a refund on Scambook will be given the option to donate their money to help repair a school devastated by the hurricane. Scambook will match our users’ donations up to $10,000 and 100% of proceeds will go to help students in need.
Sadly, in the wake of disasters like Sandy, there’s always a lot of misinformation and chaos. Con artists take full advantage of this confusion. They know that people want to help victims but might not know how, so they create fake charities to take your donation money. They’ll also exploit the tragedy to pressure you into donating. They may even pretend to be victims themselves. In times of crisis, many people are emotionally vulnerable and therefore less likely to question the fraudulent story. If you don’t learn to see through their ploys, your generosity won’t help the real people who actually need it — it will just line the pockets of a greedy scammer.
Kevan highlights three important tips to keep in mind in the weeks, months and years that follow Hurricane Sandy. Before you open your hearts and your wallets to a charity, make sure you…
Do Your Research
Don’t donate until you’ve done your homework and you know where your money will go. Use websites like charitynavigator.org, guidestar.org and Scambook to find out if a charity or nonprofit group is legitimate. You can also find out what percentage of your donation goes to the cause itself, instead of overhead costs. Before you give, ask if the organization is a registered 501 group and consult the National Association of State Charity Officials.
Don’t Trust Digital Word of Mouth
You may receive an email, or see a story circulating on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube, that claims to be from a Hurricane Sandy victim in need. Unless you actually know this person, can’t verify their story. They might be making everything up just to take advantage of you.
Go With Your Gut Instinct
Remember, a legitimate charity or nonprofit will never pressure or manipulate you into donating. If a real group calls you on the phone or approaches you outside of a store, they won’t be rude if you say “no.” Always follow your gut instinct and never give money to anyone if you feel uncomfortable.
The relief effort for Sandy will be ongoing and you’ll have opportunities to help for many months to come. Take the time to do your homework. Make sure that your donation money goes to the people and places who need it the most, not a fraudster’s bank account.
For more tips to avoid charity fraud, read our recent blog article here.
Our hearts go out to the victims of Hurricane Sandy.